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Signs of pragmatism in steps to boost economy

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25.08.2019

No government and no finance minister can afford to forget the ground realities. Reality hits back. It was but natural then that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had to take note of certain issues in the economy which she did not reckon with in her Budget speech on July 5. The Budget was meant as a statement of intent, grand intent, of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s second term in office. It was felt that to mention problems in the speech would have spoiled the party, as it were. But more than a month-and-a-half after the Budget, the government had to respond to one issue it had not mentioned in the Budget, and another which was mentioned in it.

The first related to the automobile industry, a key part of manufacturing, and the only part that seemed to be doing well when manufacturing as a whole had been languishing through the five years of the Narendra Modi government’s first term, from the summer of 2014 to the summer of 2019. With the precipitous fall in sales since the beginning of this year, the auto sector was gasping for breath. The finance minister responded by allowing greater depreciation for the inventory, deferring the date of introducing the Bharat-IV rules regarding emissions and the switch to electric vehicles, and the promise that the government would buy new cars. This is almost a knee-jerk reaction. The government buying cars to stem the fall in sales is not exactly a boost to the........

© Deccan Chronicle